Thornton Fire Department offers winter safety tips

Thornton Fire Department offers winter safety tips
As the cold and snow of winter continues across the metro area, the Thornton Fire Department would like to offer some
safety tips:
During and after snowstorms you will often see mounds of snow. These mounds of snow should be left alone. Children
tend to want to climb the mound however by doing this they are putting themselves at risk to fall to the ground, or into the
road. Children should not sled down these snow mounds. Drivers should be cognizant of any activity around all snow
Space heaters need their space! Keep combustibles at least three feet away from each heater. When buying a heater,
look for a thermostat control mechanism and a switch that automatically shuts off the power if the heater falls over.
Heaters are not dryers or tables! Don’t dry or store objects on top of your heater.
Always put candles in non-tip candleholders before you light them, and do not burn candles near decorations or displays.
Keep candles well away from curtains, and never put candles in windows or near exits. Never leave a room with a candle
burning or within reach of small children.
Wear rubber-soled shoes or boots with good traction. Avoid wearing leather soles or high heels shoes. Take short steps
with you feet pointed slightly outward. This will help keep your center of balance under you and provide a stable base for
support. Pay attention to your walking surface and beware of black ice. Don’t take shortcuts. Always use sidewalks,
steps, ramps, and the cleared paths in parking lots. Carry only those items necessary. Carrying weighted or bulky
packages increases your chances of falling.
Winter not only brings snow, but also cold weather. Remember to dress appropriately, bundle up, but don’t overdue it. If
you are going to be indoors, open up your coat to avoid overheating yourself. Warning signs include uncontrolled
shivering, memory loss, disorientation, slurred speech, and apparent exhaustion. If you can, take the person’s
temperature. If it is below 95 degrees F, immediately seek medical attention. If medical care is not available, begin
warming the person slowly. Remove wet clothing, and wrap warm blankets between legs and under arms to start. Warm
the body core first. If needed use your own body heat to help. Get the person into dry clothing, and wrap them in a warm
blanket covering the head and neck. Do not give the person alcohol, drugs, coffee, or any HOT beverage or food; warm
broth is better. Do not warm extremities (arms and legs) first! This drives the cold blood toward the heart and can lead to
heart failure.
Dress warmly, paying special attention to feet, hands, nose and ears. Avoid shoveling if you are out of shape or if you
have a history of heart trouble. If you have to shovel your walks, try not to over do it. If you feel yourself getting tired and
weak, it’s time to go inside and take a break. If possible, push snow in front of you. If you have to lift it, pick up small
amounts and lift with your legs bent, not your back. Do not toss snow over your shoulder or to the side.
Dress warmly, paying special attention to feet, hands, nose and ears. Make sure you understand your owners manual
safety procedures thoroughly. Be sure you have good visibility or light. Clear the area that you are going to blow snow
from of all obstacles that can clog the chute. Never put your hand in the snow blower to remove snow or debris, instead
turn it off and disconnect the sparkplug, then use a stick or broom handle. Never leave the snow blower unattended.
Don’t attempt to clear steep slopes.
"WINTER STORMS… The Deceptive Killers"
Every year winter storms and below zero temperatures give rise to weather-related emergencies. Winter storms are
considered deceptive killers because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. Everyone is potentially at risk;
however the actual threat to you depends on your specific situation. Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow,
pushing a car, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating
could lead to a chill and hypothermia. The cold weather can present serious problems. A little careful planning,
preparedness and common sense can help prevent may of these problems and make your winter a lot safer.
Wear loose-fitting, light-weight, warm clothing in several layers. Trapped air insulates. Layers can be removed to avoid
perspiration and subsequent chill. Outer garments should be tightly woven, water repellent, and hooded. Wear a hat. Half
your body heat loss can be from the head. Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from extreme cold. Mittens, snug at the
wrist, are better than gloves. Try to stay dry.
Extreme cold often accompanies a winter storm or is left in its wake. Prolonged exposure to the cold can cause frostbite
or hypothermia and become life-threatening. Infants and elderly people are most susceptible. Pipes may freeze and burst
in homes that are poorly insulated or without heat. If your pipes freeze this winter, DO NOT use a propane torch to thaw
them out! You could set your home on fire by accident! Thaw them out slowly, a hand held hair dryer works best.
Frostbite is damage to body tissue caused by that tissue being frozen. Frostbite causes a loss of feeling and a white or
pale appearance in extremities, such as fingers, toes, ear lobes, or the tip of your nose. If symptoms are detected, get
medical help immediately! If you must wait for help, slowly rewarm affected areas. If the person is showing sings of
hypothermia, however, warm the body core before the extremities.
Stay in your car or truck
Disorientation occurs quickly in wind-driven snow and cold
Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat
Open the window a little for fresh air to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning
Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked
Make yourself visible to rescuers
Turn on the dome light at night when running the engine
Tie a colored cloth (preferably red) to your antenna or door
Raise the hood indicating trouble after snow stops falling
Exercise from time to time by vigorously moving arms, legs, fingers, and toes to keep blood circulating and to
keep warm
Plan your travel and check the latest weather reports to avoid the storm! If local authorities recommend you to stay off the
road, take their advice. Don’t go unless you really have to go. Allow extra time to get to your destinations. Reduce speed
and drive with extra caution. Don’t pass plow trucks. Avoid sudden breaking, stopping or turning. Allow extra space
between your vehicle and the vehicles in front of you. Before winter have your vehicle services to check for proper tires,
tire pressure, fluid levels etc. Maintain a full tank of gas, never let your tank go below half anytime during the winter.
Blankets/sleeping bags
Flashlight with extra batteries
First-aid kit
high-calorie non perishable food
Extra clothing to keep dry
Bag of sand or kitty litter
Windshield scraper and brush
Compass and road maps
Booster cables
There is an attraction to ice on ponds and lakes during the winter months. It is fun to walk on, run and slide across and to
go snowmobiling on. Unfortunately, the risks are underestimated. If you see someone who has fallen through the ice, DO
NOT WALK out to them, you may become another victim. Call 911 for help and wait for them to arrive.
Another common winter hazard is power lines being downed due to ice storms or high winds. Wires should always be
considered LIVE AND DANGEROUS and must be avoided. Please notify the Fire Department and the electric company
immediately, and it will be handled from there.
It is also a nice gesture to check on the elderly person living next door during the winter and summer months. Just to
make sure they have everything and they are not in any kind of difficulty. Just knowing someone is out there helps.
Keep fire where it belongs - in the fireplace! Make sure you have a screen large enough to catch flying sparks and rolling
logs. Clean your chimney regularly - creosote build-up can ignite your chimney, roof and the whole house! Have your
chimney inspected annually for damage and obstructions. Store cooled ashes in a tightly sealed metal container.
Cardboard boxes and paper bags can quickly catch fire. Only burn materials appropriate for a fireplace, never burn trash
or paper, burning paper can float up a chimney and onto your roof or into your yard.
Furnaces should have regular maintenance to operate properly. Annual cleaning, inspection are recommended. As
mentioned before, have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually. Don’t use the oven for heating!
Sometimes winter storms are accompanied by strong winds creating blizzard conditions with blinding wind-driven snow,
severe drifting, and dangerous wind chill. Strong winds and ice storms can knock down trees, utility poles, and power
lines. Communications and power can be disrupted for days while utility companies work to repair the extensive damage.
Even small accumulations of ice may cause extreme hazards to motorists and pedestrians.
Heavy snow can immobilize a region and paralyze a city, stranding commuters, stopping the flow of supplies, and
disrupting emergency and medical services. Accumulations of snow can collapse buildings and knock down trees and
power lines. The cost of snow removal, repairing damages and loss of business can have large economic impacts on
cities and towns.
Rain drops that freeze into ice pellets before reaching the ground constitute sleet. Sleet usually bounces when hitting a
surface and does not stock to objects. However, it can accumulate like snow and cause a hazard to motorists. Rain that
falls onto a surface with a temperature below freezing causes it to freeze to surfaces, such as tires, cars and roads,
forming a coating or glaze of ice. Even small accumulations of ice can cause a significant hazard.
Wind chill is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin caused by combined effects of wind and cold. As the wind
increases, heat is carried away from the body at an accelerated rate, driving down the body temperature. Be aware that
animals are also affected by wind chill.
For more information on winter safety call Thornton Fire Public Education Officer at 303-538-7602.